Rod Townsend sometimes receives phone calls from The Future, a mysterious entity that knows where things will be in New York after the Starbucks and Whole Foods have blanketed the town and then disappeared.


"Jiào nǐ shēng háizi méi pìgu yǎn! Oh, hi, it's The Future. So sorry you had to hear that, but this place stresses me out sometimes."

"It's been a few weeks since I heard from you. Given the conditions of your last call, I was a little worried."

"Sorry, cybersphincter. I was at Beth-Israel-Rey getting my iPortal upgraded. Bùyàoliǎn de dōngxī! Ugh. Shopping really brings out the worst in me and it's packed here today."

"Where are you, anyway?"

"I'm just trying to get my gift shopping done here at the Bleecker Street Mall."

"There's a mall on Bleecker Street?"

"Oh. I guess they haven't enclosed it yet?"

"Enclosed it? As in the whole street?"

"Yeah, from Christopher up to Greenwich. You see, one day James Wilkie Broderick was walking down Bleecker with his mother, and a pigeon, deliberately, according to Sarah Jessica, shat on him. He was rushed to a homeopath and seemed okay, but then refused to leave his home in fear of another avian attack."

"That's seems like over-reacting."

"Well, his mother is sort of known for overacting, so I guess...."

"No, over-reacting."

"Well, that was just the beginning! There were fund-raisers and vigils. Eventually Mayor Quinn gathered a lesbian hunting expedition to kill off all of the pigeons, but even that wasn't enough to convince James that it was safe in the city. That's when J. P. Jacobs came up with what was the first of his many brilliant ideas: To enclose Bleecker Street to make it safer for shopping."

"J. P. Jacobs? That name sounds familiar."

"Oh, he's one of the most prominent fashion designers around. He's had stores on Bleecker for a very long time."

"Oh. You mean Marc Jacobs."

"Wait. That's right; I forgot about his partner. So sad when he died in the Pilates Plague. But Jason Preston was the brains in that duo, and he carried on the Jacobs name. So brave. Anyway, covering the street was his idea and it's taken off wildly. One of the anchor stores just added another level actually."

"Another level of what?"

"Sorry, another floor. Now there's five floors to the Magnoliaplex. The first floor houses the cupcake department."

"And the other floors?"

"That's for the lines to get to the cupcakes. All of those different flavors. But I think the most popular one is the original flavor: Sawdust."

"Well, I guess it's sort of good to hear that some businesses from the present have survived. What other kinds of stores are there?"

"Where to start? There are clothes by Allie Hilfiger, and Kelly Klein and Cougarama. All kinds of specialty shops like Heidi and Spencer's Gifts, and Cory Haim's Cat Corner. Conveniences like Whole Foods, a Lohan Pharmacy, SUV City, and three ProphetBoxes. And of course the mall's other anchor, CondoMania."

"CondoMania? Wow. It's great to hear that it's back and doing well."

"Totally. Just the other day I stopped by and picked up a new two-bedroom. With a self-sanitizing kitchen! Hold on, one second. Back off, xiao dao dan gui! Hey. I'll call you next week. Some tool is trying to get the last 'Gossip Girl, The Movie' DVD and I totally have to have it!"